5

Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013

Henning Bolte By

Sign in to view read count
Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013
Copenhagen, Denmark
July 12-14, 2013
The annual Copenhagen Jazz Festival, with more than a thousand concerts during ten days—spread over more than hundred places and stages across the city—is a special, unique affair. Like other big jazz festivals, it also has its headliners—big names, mostly American, like Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona, Chick Corea, Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Marcus Miller and David Murray—but the main thing is the numerous concerts at smaller or bigger places inside or outside, all over the city.

It's up to the visitor to make more or less sharp choices, restrict him/herself or just roaming the city and attending performance at random. Visiting performances at favorite areas or places is also a possibility, or following favorite, interesting musicians' performances at different places in different groups. This last variant is a specialty of the Copenhagen festival. Anyway, it's important to come prepared; some topographical study of the city might be useful in order to get an idea how to get to different places (in time). A thorough study is even advisable and the well-designed festival app—downloadable through the festival website—is an extremely useful tool to do so.

2013 was my second visit to the festival. Last year I restricted myself to just two performances by Jakob Bro, Thomas Morgan, Jon Christensen and chef Jakob Mielcke. Mielcke did his special musiculinary session this year, again together with Bro and Morgan, but this time with Chris Speed.

This year, however, I moved in wider circles during three days, with the ILK Collective and the ILK venue as focal point. Friday, July 12 (the first day) offered 137 concerts, Saturday 130, and Sunday—also the last day of the festival—76. There will be much left to explore in coming years, but during this year's three days I not only attended concerts, but had talks with a couple of musicians.


Day 1: Saturday, July 12

The first stop: Kødbyen, the old meatpacking district behind Copenhagen's Central Station. There are three places with concerts, among them the venue of the ILK Collective. The district is a vast area with low-rise functional buildings, some of which are still functioning in their original form. Others have been transformed into restaurants, galleries and studios, or function as offices for creative business companies. There is a section with white buildings, another with grey buildings and yet another with brown buildings. It is now a popular place to go out and a place for trendy nightlife.

The three music venues are situated in the brown area, closest to the Central Station. It is the oldest area and dates back to 1883. Here the DGI-byen can be found—a sports, swimming and conference complex—and the exhibition hall Øksnehallen, originally a stable for 1,600 cattle prior to being slaughtered. The newer white area still serves its original purpose, housing businesses related to the meat industry. The grey part is a smaller area, with cultural activities, offices and meat industries.



The first concert attended was at the Ph-Cafee, where Italian pianist Emanuele Maniscalco, and trumpeter Ivar Hedén and drummer Måns Wikemo (both from Sweden)—all studying in Copenhagen—were playing. They performed soft, vulnerable music. None of the three musicians served the standard tone of his instrument but instead expressed themselves through a diversity of soft tones and special timbres produced by extended techniques. Maniscalco is on a new ECM release as part of the trio Third Reel, where he plays the drums. He moved to Copenhagen in 2012 to deepen his piano studies. The two Swedes, especially drummer Wikemo, already have distinct voices.

Later, the evening continued outside on a small open-air stage in the backyard of the café, where young Danish pianist Soren Gemmer performed in a more straightforward way with a group consisting of bassist Tapani Toivanen, drummer Andreas Fryland and trumpeter Mads la Cour. Gemmer, a gentle, refined melodist, has just released at first (2013), on the Danish ILK label. Two young but excellent groups to start with.

Not only does the audience move criss-cross throughout the city; the musicians do also, very often playing several concerts at different places on different days. Logistics and transportation are mostly self-organized, and frequently visible.

Nothing is specially rebuilt or redesigned; instead, venues are left in their old shape and more or less decayed state, with clear traces of their former industrial usage. The front, for example, an old car repair shop can now be found serving as a bio restaurant, an example of the re-aestheticization. Having your biological meal on spark plugs—Bosch bougies.

The music going on during the festival is an integral part of bigger whole. No efforts were made to create a huge mono-functional festival space. It was up to people to drop in or out at the venues, entry of which was for decent ticket prices—or even for free. This applied all over the town during the ten days of the festival.

To get to the ILK venue, it was necessary to enter through a small port in a railing to get to the slaughterhouse blocks. The music was happening in a compartment at the end of the 5e cross block. No clearing up or redesigning, either inside or outside; instead, just the raw state—simple, with some sparse accents as minimal necessary lighting. It was a receptive sphere, where it could be sensed that the music was being played for, shared and carried by an eager audience. A sphere, then, of joint attention and adventure.



Going for a completely unknown group, Eggs Laid By Tigers, only drummer Peter Bruun and pianist Simon Toldam were familiar. With plans to meet both of them in the next couple of days, it was a good reason to watch and listen incognito. Bruun and Toldam are involved in a variety of groups. Bruun is a member of Django Bates Beloved Trio, and also plays in a trio with Samuel Blaser and Marc Ducret. Toldam is the pianist in Han Bennink's trio. But what about Eggs Laid By Tigers? The announcements hinted at something special—extraordinary, even—whatever that might be.

It came as a total surprise when the group started: three guitarists sang heartfelt songs in colorful and vital close harmony. It felt as if Levon Helm was suddenly back on earth or ... but wait, these guys clearly were songsmiths of their own. What they gave were songs comprising a basic musical feeling expressed straight but in a sophisticated way—songs evoking happy moments of memory, facing the future wide awake and dream-facing. That kind of quality of pure joy. Brunn sang and played acoustic guitar from behind his drum kit; Toldam played on old Phillips organ from the '60s. The bass guitarist sang the lead in close unison with electric guitarist Martin Ullits Dahl. The group's excellent lead singer ultimately turned out to be Berlin-based jazz bassist Jonas Westergaard. A really surprising, seizing metamorphosis.

Eggs Laid By Tigers? The image originates from Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). The group's songs were based on texts by the author of the famous play Under Milk Wood—again surprisingly unique—and its first album, Under The Mile Off Moon (available as vinyl plus download only) will soon be released worldwide.

This first encounter shed a light on the ILK Collectiveand its artistic and musical layout. ILK—Independent Label Kopenhagen—is a collective founded 10 years ago by a group of young musicians in order to create an independent manner to record, document, distribute and perform their own music. As drummer Kresten Osgood put it: "It started because everybody got fed up with the established jazz labels and started to produce their own albums and create their own labels. A lot of these small labels were finally combined into ILK, which is a record label and a musicians' collective."

A stable number of 20 musicians are now members of the collective: Anders Banke (bcl/ts); Anders Filipsen; Elena Setien; Francesco Bigoni; Jacob Anderskov, Jeppe Skovbakke; Jesper Lovdal; Kresten Osgood; Laura Toxværd, Lotte Anker; Mark Solborg; Nils Bo Davidsen; Peter Bruun; Qarin Wikström; Simon Toldam; Stefan Pasborg; Stephan Sieben; Sture Ericson; Søren Kjærgaard and Torben Snekkestad.

During the festival, ILK ran 48 concerts with 95 musicians, also celebrating its own 10th anniversary. The program consisted of local and global bands with internationally acknowledged performers including Koichi Makigami (JP), Thomas Morgan (US), Gerald Cleaver (US), Marc Lohr (LU), Beppe Scardino (IT), Liudas Mockunas (LT), Phil Minton (UK), Herman Müntzing (SE), Anders Lindsjö (SE), Ceci Quinteros (AR), Lars Andreas Haug (NO), Ned Ferm (US), Mikko Innanen (FIN), Butch Lacy (US/DK), Johannes Bauer (G), and Axel Dorner (G). The ILK catalog and ILK concerts demonstrated plenty of regularly and recurrent international collaborations over the years with artists including Jon Balke, Jeff Ballard, Han Bennink, Paul Bley, Gerald Cleaver, Andrew Cyrille, Henry Grimes, Evan Parker, Chris Speed, Craig Taborn, John Tchicai and Cuong Vu.

ILK is a forerunner which has triggered the foundation of new collectives and labels. During the past ten years a distinctive artistic profile of openness and diversity has been created, liberated from various kinds of patterns, postulates and prescriptions and dedicated to explorative risk-taking, intuition and consciousness of form serving the creation of firm new expression.

Day 2: Sunday, July 13

The second day began with an interview with drummer/pianist Emanuele Maniscalco, originally from Brescia, in Northern Italy. For the past year he has been studying at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen to deepen his piano capabilities. Denmark has a tradition of musical education where classically notated music and rhythmic music are distinguished on all levels of schooling, hence the name of the conservatory. Together with Swiss guitarist Roberto Pianca, from Lugano, and Swiss saxophonist/clarinetist Nicolas Masson, from Geneva, Maniscalco forms Third Reel, where he plays drums, the trio's self-titled debut released earlier this year on ECM.

Maniscalo gave some insight into the recording of Third Reel at the Lugano Studio. Issues such as the balancing of body and mind in music-making were touched upon, as well as the minimal means principle, the importance of early memory as a source in music and slowing things down.

The first concert of the day took place in the Frederiksberg district. Frederiksberg is a fashionable, green area in the western part of Copenhagen, with the oasis of Frederiksberg Gardens. It is more posh than Nørrebro and Vesterbro, and the people living here are usually older and more established. The main street through Frederiksberg is Gammel Kongevej: shopping, sushi restaurants, cafes and delis. The same is true for Værnedamsvej Street, which is both cozy and cool.

Pianist Nikolaj Hess was playing in a duo with singer Caroline Henderson at Bartof Café, Ndr. Fasanenvej. Henderson, a well-known figure from the Danish scene, subbed for Dutch saxophonist Marc Momaas, from New York, who could not make it. Both are regular musical partners with Hess and a good indication of his musical and geographical range, the pianist dividing his time between New York and Copenhagen.

Tags

Jazz Near Copenhagen
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related